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First time to Yosemite in late May

PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2017 8:17 am
by msb5216

I'm trying to plan a trip to Yosemite somewhere between May 22nd and June 2nd. 4 people total and we'd like to hike and camp for 3 or 4 nights, preferably with a wilderness pass and not in one of the main campgrounds. Any mileage between 6 and 12 a day seems reasonable.

Our experience levels vary but the least experienced has camped in sub-20 degree temperatures and hiked fairly strenuous 14 mile days. A couple day hikes in the 5-6 mile range at >9k feet with no altitude issues.

We don't have any real experience with deep snow/ice conditions, so we'd like to avoid anything serious but hiking through a couple inches won't bother anyone.

Any suggestions for best routes to take and where to camp would be greatly appreciated! I realize its not the ideal time of year for this, so we're pretty flexible.


Re: First time to Yosemite in late May

PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2017 11:09 am
by AlmostThere
You'll have a tough time avoiding snow this year. There's a lot of it. Runoff will be very dangerous, making stream crossings potentially deadly, and mosquitos will be progressively worse as the snowmelt continues. And you'll have a ton of competition for the few areas that will be semi-snow free -- the reservable permits for that time period are probably gone.

Consider the Chilnualna trail, the Hetch Hetchy area, trails in the southeastern corner of the park - Ostrander Lake, Buena Vista loop. Or just an out and back to Merced Lake. You may not find it possible to do 3-4 nights anywhere, depending on where the snow is solidly covering the trail for miles. If the roads are melted out to trailheads in the national forest, you may be able to get into Chain Lakes from the Quartz Mountain trailhead (that's some lakes inside the park but a long way from park trailheads).

Trailheads on TIoga Road are probably reserved as well and it's a total gamble on if the road is even open then, and if it is not, those people will be scrambling for permits to other trailheads. It's going to be *interesting.* As a local I tend to head for coastal destinations in May, or lower elevation national forest destinations.

Re: First time to Yosemite in late May

PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2017 12:04 pm
by msb5216
Thanks for the reply! If we're set on late May, do you have a suggestion for another park or area that makes more sense? We're flying into SF and planning to go to Napa/Sonoma area as well.

Re: First time to Yosemite in late May

PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2017 12:11 pm
by AlmostThere
Point Reyes has hike-in camps. You can string together a 3 or 4 night itinerary there.

Big Basin has hike in camping, you have to call them for reservations. There are other redwoods backpacking trips here and there up and down the coast. And the Ohlone Trail might be an option if steep hill climbing doesn't dissuade you - the Big Burn is no walk in the park. You could try Angel Island for really really easy hiking and camping after a ferry ride -- historical landmarks there, and some nice views of the bay from the top of the island. Mt Tamalpais has car campsites and plenty of trails for day hiking, and it's close to Point Reyes. Muir Woods is a nice place to walk in redwoods as well, just down the road.

All of these need reservations, the respective park websites can help you.

Re: First time to Yosemite in late May

PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2017 7:54 pm
by Phil
Pt Reyes is an excellent suggestion. As a local of Sonoma County, if I didn't want to head way up the coast to Redwoods, it's where I would go. The other option would be to find a few day hikes such as Mt Tam SP or Sugar Loaf SP and just head back to my swanky hotel in the evening.

Your timeframe for YNP is just too early in the season for longer routes without snow. The only real possible exception might be the North Rim of the Valley for a couple/few days, or as AT also suggests, maybe Ostrander or up to Merced, but the bugs in all those places will likely be murderous.

Just to add: late May/early June the falls in the Valley are going to be supercharged. Especially this year. Even without camping, if you've never been to Yosemite and seen them really going, you need to.